A Tiptree summer
PUBLISHED: 16:03 18 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:03 18 May 2015
A highlight of the breakfast table across the UK, and in more than 60 other countries, Tiptree jams are one of the county’s most celebrated exports. Essex Life takes a little look at what summer is like in the Tiptree fields
This month, fields of ripe strawberries will be ready for picking across the fields of Tiptree. Some are grown for the fresh fruit market while other traditional varieties, such as Little Scarlet, will be made into Wilkin & Sons’ delicious Little Scarlet Strawberry Conserve; just in time for National Cream Tea Day on June 26.
Mr A C Wilkin made the first pan of strawberry preserves 130 years ago this June. Today, strawberries are still the main crop in the farm and while some are grown in the open fields, many can be seen on table top stands where it is easier to pick the crop and the fruit is free from straw. Beyond the strawberries are fields of Timperley Early rhubarb (it is pulled by hand and can be made into a perfect rhubarb crumble with a touch of ginger) while the rest of the crop is used in the jam factory.
One of the most beautiful pictures each spring is the orchard of snowy white morello cherry blossom. Many Essex gardens have had amazing displays of blossom this year and at Tiptree the sweet cherries, peaches and crab apple trees in the new orchards have been full of blossom.
Farmers plan and plant for future generations. Mulberry trees planted five years ago will take another 20 years before they produce a reasonable crop but as demand for Mulberry Conserve always exceeds supply, this harvest will be very welcome.
This summer, visitors to the Tiptree Fruit Shed will be able to buy fruit from the farm including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and plums (sorry no mulberries). But it takes more than good fruit and sugar to make fine conserves, it is the expertise of the people who work on the farm, who sort the fruit by hand and who run the jam factory that has helped Tiptree conserves build a great reputation in the UK and in more than 60 countries. Mini jars of marmalade or raspberry jam can be found in the top hotels of the USA, India, Australia and in the Middle East, and for Essex folk, it makes us feel at home when we’re travelling.
The farming tradition of planning for the future has been reflected in the growth of other parts of the business through acquisition. Cole’s Puddings of Great Chesterford, Thursday Cottage and the Tiptree Patisserie have become part of the Wilkin & Sons family and there has also been diversification into tearooms across Essex. Tiptree cream teas can be found at the Tiptree Visitor Centre, The Lock at Heybridge Basin, The Essex Rose at Dedham, The Courtyard at Saffron Walden, The Lordship at Writtle or Bosworth’s in Finchingfield.